Leader vs Manager

Leader vs Manager
Mark Westermeier, CPRP
Director of Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation

Leadership and management are frequently confused as the same. Many people believe that CEOs, Presidents and Directors are leaders, while this is often the case, it is not a certainty. While people in management positions do demonstrate many leadership qualities, that does not necessarily indicate they are leaders. Leadership is much more complicated and ambiguous.

You find leaders almost everywhere. These are the people who see a better future and convince others to change and redirect their actions to accomplish very small to monumental change in all fields of endeavor. You can identify them as the dreamers, innovators, and visionaries that effect change. Yet often times, it is the manager who implements the change.

Let’s look at some of the key traits of a leader versus a manager:
• Leaders demonstrate leadership through their vision of the future; conversely, managers take a vision and break it down into a roadmap of objectives to be completed.

• Leaders challenge the status quo, dare to do things differently, think outside of the box, and innovate. Managers direct day-to-day activities, review resources and processes, and anticipate the next step.

• Leaders inspire people to be all they can be while ensuring they know their role in the big picture, whereas managers look after their people and their needs, while listening and involving them in the process.

• Leaders tell people where they are headed, keeping them informed along the journey, and sharing issues and obstacles along the way while always keeping the big picture in mind. Managers establish work processes, rules, standards, and operating procedures.

• Leaders have followers and managers have subordinates.

• Leaders are often times risk-seeking while managers are risk-averse.
As you may easily see, leaders can be managers and managers can be leaders, and often times both groups have traits of the other. People can also be leaders in their home, community, or workplace. Leaders are the people who dream, inspire, innovate, and change the future.

When struggling with a problem or project, I habitually evaluate whether I am approaching the obstacle as a leader or manager. That simple act is often times the catalyst to solving the issue or successfully moving the project forward.

Distinguishing the differences between leadership and management can help you resolve conflicts. The next time your encounter a struggle, take a moment to evaluate whether you are being a leader or manager. It may very well lead you to a timely resolution.

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